Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Court Orders US Treasury Department to Accomodate the Visually Imparied

In 2002, The American Council of the Blind initiated a lawsuit against the U.S Treasury Department on the basis that American currency discriminates against the visually impaired who cannot differentiate between US bills because they are printed in the same size, shape and colour.

In a ruling released today, the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a 2006 lower court ruling finding in favour of the The American Council of the Blind and calling for the U.S. Treasury Department to alter American currency to accommodate the visually impaired. The advocacy group has suggested numerous methods by which such accommodation could be accomplished, including adding embossed dots or raised ink to paper bills.

The Washington Post reports:
In finding for the American Council of the Blind, which first brought its lawsuit in 2002, the court said the Treasury Department did not prove that changing the currency system would constitute an undue burden for the federal government.

Instead, it found that altering the size or shape of paper bills so the visually impaired can distinguish among them would not cost substantially more than other changes the government has made to bills in order to deter counterfeiting.

In addition, the appeals court said, the government could have avoided some of the additional cost of changing its currency system if it had included accommodations for the visually impaired while adding anti-counterfeiting measures in recent years
In the ruling of the lower Court in 2006, it was noted that the United States is the only country in the world which prints paper bills that are the same size, shape and colour regardless of denomination.

- Annie Noa Kenet, Toronto

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